Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cold Weather Play date (recipe exchange)

We hosted a play date in Jan. our first for 2013. I wanted to do a soup recipe exchange and I am so glad it worked out. My goal this year is to host one play date each month. Either at my house, at the park, or some other location.
January's play date was: Soup, Stews, and Chilies Recipe Exchange. We had everyone over for lunch. Each family brought a cold weather meal to share. We had lots of bowls and breads (I provided toasted breads) and we each got to try each other's soups. It was only the four of us, but it was a nice intimate  group without too many people to make it feel crowded and we all also got 3 new recipes that we know we like and we know work to try.
Still trying to make choices for February. I haven't decided yet what to do. I'm sort of hoping that it will warm up enough to do it at the park.
I started a board on pinterest called PLAY DATE IDEAS. I started it because no one comes to the "come to my house and we'll chat and the kids will play" play date invites in official play groups. I'm not sure why, I go and its just me and the other lady. That's fine, I like to get to know the other lady, but its not fine when its you trying to host that play date and NO ONE shows up. Same thing with a park play date. You say "we're going to the park come join us" no one shows up. But if you say "we're going to the park and having otter pops" 14 families show up. True story.  So what is it? My theory is the doing that little something more is incentive to actually stick with it and follow through by showing up.
Follow, they don't have to be complicated. The kids don't care. They just want to play with their friends. Too many moms feel if they are hosting and planing a play date it has to be big and complicated and expensive. It shouldn't be any of those things (sure they can be but again the kids don't care) Its a play date not a birthday party.
Quick ideas:

  1. bubbles at the park
  2. cookie eating
  3. hot cocoa bar or just hot cocoa
  4. Read a book (mini story time at your house or at the park- see easy)
  5. a very very simple craft
  6. quick history lesson, maybe followed by a craft but not required
  7. water guns at the park
  8. kite flying
  9. snack time or lunch time at the park
  10. brunch (muffins) at the park
  11. make a card date (mother's day, father's day, I love you cards)
  12. Watch a show date 
OR you can plan something for the adults (don't do "parties" to sell if you want people to come, those make people uncomfortable and you'll get less to show up because they financially won't feel like they can participate) Such as:
  1. Recipe exchanges (salads, pasta dishes, soups, cookies, breads)
  2. Lunch bars (potato bar, soup bar, cheese and crackers, bread bowls, salads, sandwiches)
    these do not need to be a burden on you, each lady brings something
  3. books and magazine exchange (everyone brings their finished read books and magazines to let someone else take them home)
  4. Service: write servicemen, write missionaries, make a humanitarian aid craft or craft for the sick and ill. 
  5. Pedicures and manicures
  6. Craft afternoon (everyone brings their own craft project that they are currently working on to work on while chatting)
  7. Any exchange- bring items clothes, books, home supplies, craft supplies things you're preparing to send to DI or Goodwill, let the other ladies have first dibs, everything left over goes to Goodwill. 
  8. Meet at one location, park, and walk to the park. 
I'm sure there are so many more. I'm just brainstorming. Almost anything you do can either be done at your house or at the park. Parks are easy places to meet. Less stress on you because there is no need to make your home spotless, less clean up, and lots of area to play. Good luck I hope this helps all of you plan better less stressful play dates. 

I have started a pinterest board for play date ideas

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bowling for Felicity

On the way home from being there for my parents receiving their mission call, we stopped in Casa Grande for Felicity's birthday party. Her bday party was in a bowling alley.
I played downright HORRIBLE. But this was only my third time every really bowling and I don't care what my dad says bowling is not easy and I am a much better Wii bowler and the two are nothing a like. 
I hope Felicity had a great birthday. We had a fun time celebrating it with her. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Hope they call my Parents on a mission....

My parents put in their papers to serve an 18 month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We are very proud of them and happy for their choice to serve the LORD. They made the choice not long after General Conference back in October. They didn't tell us for a little while that they were preparing to do so. And they put their papers in hoping to have their call by Christmas. But it didn't come in time for Christmas. Instead it came 1/11. We went up to Mesa for a super quick trip to be there for it and support them.
they received their call to Thailand. It is where my dad served his mission as a young adult and where they wanted to go and have always felt that they belonged serving their mission there.
We are proud of their choice. I know it can't be easy. They currently have five grandbabies that will be hard to leave and one that is on the say that will be over a year when they get home. Also they have three grown sons that we are all hopeful will get married, coming home for those weddings if they happen while my parents are gone will not be financially possible for my parents and they will have to celebrate from afar. Missions never come at convenient times.  I learned this as a JR missionary when I served as a young adult. I was in college and felt strongly that I was to serve a mission. It was a very hard choice for me. But I knew I would be blessed if I followed the promptings and served. I know our family will be blessed for their service. Already we have seen blessings, like the absolute best job we could have hoped for being dropped into my husband's lap at the most opportune moment. We are already being blessed.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Its a Celebration

We have been offered and accepted a job!! Not just any job, but the absolute best job we could have hoped the Lord would bless us with. And yes we have been BLESSED. I am so grateful that we have a loving Father in Heaven who knows us and our needs. He wants to bless us and will bless us if we let Him and in the right timing. 

First of all we have been unemployed since September. Over and over again we have been reminded over the past few months that Heavenly Father is mindful of us and our needs. As we prayed the answer I felt more than once was "why are you worried, haven't I taken care of you". Yes He was taking care of us. He showed that love over and over again. And even though we still did not have a job I knew that He loved us and was blessing us daily. Not all answers to prayers are "no" "yes" or "not now" sometimes the answer is "calm yourself, see how you have been blessed". As I reflected on the answer I was given there are two scriptures that came to mind. One my mother pointed out to me "consider the lilies" Luke 12:27. I have never been able to comprehend this scripture. But in the light of our trials I have a new found understanding and love for this scripture. The lilies are lovely and blessed by the LORD, they don't worry about if the sun will ever rise again or will they get what they need. Instead they just grow and flourish and trust that God will provide. They hold up their part by looking beautiful to honor God, and God provides for them. The other scripture is the second found in the promise Moroni gives everyone who wants to know if the Book of Mormon is from God or some other source. After exhorting us to read the Book of Mormon, he then exhorts us to "remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things..." then he exhorts us to pray about the Book of Mormon and ask God about if it is truth or not. I promise I know that if you ask God with pure intents God will answer your prayers. But the reason I mention this here is Moroni points out something I feel is over looked or not always looked at in personal ways. God has been merciful unto all mankind. He sent his Son to be our Savoir. We should be satisfied that was more than we all deserve. That is a huge blessing. But on top of the mercy God has shown the entire human race with that sacrifice. He still listens to all our prayers,  He answers our prayers, and He blesses all so much. I know that if all of us stopped wanting what we don't have and looked at our lives through God's eyes, we'd see that we are so blessed, more than we can ever understand. Take a moment today and reflect. Then thank God for how merciful He has been in your life. It is humbling to think about.
Next the LORD's timing is a beautiful thing. That Tuesday we received the offer was the day my husband tested with the local police department. He had done really well on the written test, and had felt really confident about the PT test. Only to fall a little short by being disqualified.  We were devastated. We had been really counting on this. Yes this wasn't the end, we could test again. We were looking at other police departments. But this police department would mean not moving and being employed by the end of March. Which was the earliest any of the current jobs we were looking were hiring to start. We were all feeling really low when my husband, out of the blue, received a call offering him the job he applied for back in August and we were told was filled and he wasn't selected for in October. When my husband relayed this to me, I cried. I am not a crying female, but the past months have been an emotional roller coaster and all the pent up emotion was released in tears of joy, gratitude  and unbelief. We finally had a job, we made it through the drought. We have later come to learn that the timing was even more of a serendipitous blessing and has humbled us further. Since as of the same day we received our final offer an announcement was made that there is a hiring freeze in the Army for all civilian hiring effective imminently. We stepped onto the canyon wall as the bridge crumbled under our feet behind us. There is no other way to put it, then to say, I am in awe at the blessing we have been given. The Lord knows us and will bless us in His timing. 
All my life I have struggled with His plan for me and my plan for me. So rarely have I felt those plans converge. But I have always seen the wisdom in His plan if only in hind sight. This is what I wanted for us. For my husband to get this job, for us to stay put in our home, and for us to not move and stay in our ward with our callings. However, I had accepted that if that wasn't Heavenly Father's plan for our family, then no matter how much I didn't want something else, I was ready to accept it and move on. I am so grateful that sometimes what we plan we want is also the same plan He had in mind for us.
On a new less serious note,
That night after receiving our offer we went out to dinner with my in-laws. It was good to go out with out our children. Then my husband and I went to see LINCOLN, we enjoyed it. But as my husband put it to someone else- if you don't enjoy history or politics and movies about those two things make you want to dig your eyes out, you best not be seeing this movie. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fountain Hills fountain picnic dinner

we all brought sandwiches and various other foods to the park at the Fountain Hills fountain.
The older children were more interested on playing on the play ground than eating.
It was cold and as it got darker we were even colder waiting for the fountain to go one last time that day.
Isn't' that a lovely sunset, but the best caught on camera but beautiful.
Finally the fountain came on and we watched and went home. It was down right freezing.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Family Photos 2013

Taking family photos are synonymous with doing it at the Temple, for me at least. When going to the Temple isn't possible I will settle for green grass or just formal clothes but that's what I think we need.
I am also learning that with little kids they become "done" really fast and less is more. We only took about 6 photos/ shots literally 6. My brother did them for us. I then photoshoped the few little things.
I'm grateful for my brother's willingness to meet us at the Temple and my family (specifically my husband's) willingness to deal with my notion of family photos
It was a great way to start the new year, taking photos of our family at the temple.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Just like Mama

Our children mimic all sorts of things we do and say. Just like all sorts of normal children do.
I caught this moment where Nellie was acting like us by moving the mouse around. I'm not sure if she makes the connection that it does something on the computer yet, but it was sure cute.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Years

It snowed almost 4 inches in Arizona. Crazy huh. Well we did what anyone in our circumstances would, we panicked. No we played in it before it melted. Since it was most all but gone by noon.
First it was difficult finding the right sort of clothes to play in snow. Since this happens once ever 5 or so years (to have enough snow to actually play in).
The girls didn't know what to think of it. For the most part they didn't like it and you'd think they thought they were being punished.
Daddy and Al build a snow man. We used fruit for the eyes and mouth. A baby carrot for the nose.
We received more snow at once than had happened in more than 20 years.
We wanted to spend New Years Eve doing something as a family. So we went out to Denny's for breakfast.
All ready for bed, the new year has begun. (this photo is New Years night- bed time)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Our december the 24 (and 25)

We got up and drove home from Mesa. 
then that evening we went to my husband's family for Christmas Eve dinner and enjoying each other's company. At first we thought we'd play waiting there for my husband's brother to arrive in town so the kids could see their Uncle but by 6pm our children were exhausted and needed to go to bed.
We put them to bed and tried to get things done before we went to bed. 
Santa came. The girls got Disney Princess baby dolls and then from their grandparents and Aunt all sorts of toys and clothes- they are so spoiled and loved.
Al got a PoinGo. We didn't realize that you needed to pre-download the stories on the pen so a week after Christmas he still hasn't got to play with his Santa toy, but he doesn't need it. He was given all sorts of awesome toys that he is in heaven playing. He is spoiled and loved too.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

December 3rd Week

Week three started out busy and ended busy. Isn't that always the way this time of year. 
First we have a wild boar roaming around our neighborhood. We've sort of been given permission to have a big roast (by the AZ department of Agriculture) if it comes around again (but it has to be done with a bow and arrow since we live in a residential  At first I thought it was a javailna. Since its big and pig like and those tusks. Didn't even know we have boars in the area.
We went up to Mesa on Tuesday and spend the rest of the week with my family. 

On Thursday night we had our family Christmas eve traditional stuff since we were going home Christmas Eve morning. Two of my brothers even brought their current girlfriends- which is new because none of them have done that before.
We did our traditional Nativity telling/reading and had the children act it out. Don't be fooled by the calm Mary and Joseph. Not long after this photo Mary was threatening Joseph's life with the baby doll.

Just too cute not to include. 
We had a play date on Friday with JoJo.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

To see Snow

Since snow isn't something that normally falls in Arizona (although once a year where we live it gets a dusting of snow that sticks long enough to say it snowed). So when we want to show our children snow we have to drive up to the mountains and make a day outing of it.
We were able to find just enough up the canyon to play a little with.
The girls had been running low grade fevers and since we didn't know if it was teething or they were sick we decided to have them stay in the car.
Al tried to throw snow balls and make a snow angel. He wanted to build a snowman and we had to explain we'd need A LOT more snow in order to do that.
On the way back to the car, Al biffed it hard and got pebbles embedded in his forehead. We had to dig out the pebbles like it was a sliver. He was very brave. Afterwards we rewarded his courage by getting Cold Stone- he picked. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

December 2nd week

I love taking pics of my three babies wrapped up in towels and all nice and clean.
We hosted a play date, borrowed the Sizzex from my MIL and pressed aluminum foil and folded it over  thin cardboard cut outs of Christmas like things and then made them into ornaments.

 I liked them shinny and uncolored best.
Our mountains look lovely this time of year.
It snowed on our mountains. It snowed on us too. Al had fun playing in it (running around) but that was it, no sticking.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Little Girls will be little girls

Our babies are officially little girls now....
wearing my shoes. Can't get enough of shoes
wanting to play dress up 
I hope they grow out of it. I don't know what to do with little girls that aren't tom boys

they are so carrying baby dolls around the house

Thursday, January 3, 2013

December 1st week

Went to my friend's daughter's bday party. It was the first bday party. The last bday party we were invited to all the other parents dropped off their kids and then came back to pick them up, everyone but us. But the mom said she was glad I had stayed because having another adult around was a blessing. This time I was glad that the other parents all stayed, but not only that but it was a whole family affair. Also I was glad I had dressed up a little. All the other mothers looked like they were about to go on fancy dates out with their husband for the evening and it was a Saturday morning at 9am.
Everyone had a great time and I managed to control myself and not pig out, even with pizza and cake in the offing. 
I hosted my first Cookie Exchange. I really want to do this every year.
How I did it was everyone was to bring 10-20 cookies to share and the recipe. Everyone got to try everyone else's and then they have the recipe for making them in the future. I have been to exchanges were everyone brings a dozen cookies for each person coming (or something like 8 dozen) then you bring your cookies home and you are eating them forever and who is the one that gains all the weight from all those cookies sitting around your house- you do. So I didn't want everyone to feel like they had a ton of cookies when they left. Everyone did get to take some home, but only a small variety plate with the idea they could share them with their families.
I had a nice show of people about 7 ladies came and we have a fantastic array of different cookies.
this is the recipe card I made for the cookies I shared. The recipe I made if from says that you'll only get about 70 cookies. We got 120 from this recipe so taking in account the change for the number of Andies Mints you'll use each cookie came out to about 55 calories. Nice! It was also nice because I had the cookie dough in my fridge and any time I need to take some cookies somewhere I'd scoop out 20 balls, bake, cool and take. It made the Christmas season more relaxing. Plus any time I took cookies I knew there was at least one treat there I could eat a few of and not blow my diet.
They are so tasty too.
We also had a fun time playing at the park with some friends. I snapped these before our friends arrived. My children are becoming such hams for the camera. It is an instant way to get them to smile.
Merry Christmas

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Meeting Santa

Santa rode in on a helicopter and all the children stood in amazement. That was the plan and that was what we were told happened, but we were running late out the door (Saturday mornings are harsh for us to get out the door). By the time we got there Santa had landed and a line to meet him was forming. Luckily our children didn't know the difference and was thrilled to death to just see and then get to sit inside the helicopter. (they were the hospital ones). We had hot cocoa while we waited in line to meet Santa and Mrs Clause. And while waiting we also met a little girl who was born the exact same day as our twins, but at the local hospital. Granted our girls are older they were born at 1am and this little's grandma said it was after 9am.
Al was so thrilled to meet Santa that he didn't say a word. He was just thrilled to be there. The girls handled Santa fine, they didn't cry, although they did give him some funny looks like they didn't know what to think of him. But I think the fact that Al was obviously excited to be there told the girls this wasn't suppose to be a scary person.
That evening we went to the Christmas light parade. Great day, very tired children.